English Language and History

The brief stories below are taken from history, myth or fiction. Each one is accompanied by games and exercises in essential grammar and free composition, based on old school textbooks.

A to Z Index

Honourable Mr Fox
Music: Thomas Linley the Younger
The colourful Foreign Secretary humbly accepted a lesson in manners from a local tradesman.
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)

THE story is told of a tradesman calling upon him one day for the payment of a promissory note which he presented. Fox was engaged at the time in counting out gold. The tradesman asked to be paid from the money before him. “No,” said Fox, “I owe this money to Sheridan; it is a debt of honour.”

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Two Posts
Heads I Win, Tails You Lose!
(That’s cat-tails, obviously.) And who ever said cats were unpredictable?
By Charles H. Ross
(1835-1897)

ONE broiling hot summer’s day Charles James Fox and the Prince of Wales were lounging up St. James’s street, and Fox laid the Prince a wager that he would see more Cats than his Royal Highness would during their promenade, although the Prince might choose which side of the street he thought fit.

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Douglass’s Debt
Music: Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
British statesmen were among those who inspired the career of one of America’s greatest men, Frederick Douglass.
By Frederick Douglass
(1818-1895)

I MET there one of Sheridan’s mighty speeches, on the subject of Catholic Emancipation, Lord Chatham’s speech on the American War, and speeches by the great William Pitt, and by Fox.

These were all choice documents to me, and I read them over and over again, with an interest ever increasing, because it was ever gaining in intelligence; for the more I read them the better I understood them.

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AZ Index

See a complete A-Z List of all the stories on this website.

Featured Topic
Tagged ‘Abolition of Slavery’ (15 posts)
page 1
1 An Incorrigible Fanatic
By William Wilberforce
(1759-1833)
William Wilberforce told Parliament that the more his opponents slandered him, the more he was sure he was winning.
2 A Selfish Liberty
By Frederick Douglass
(1818-1895)
American anti-slavery campaigner Frederick Douglass contrasts two kinds of ‘nationalist’.
3 Douglass in Britain
Frederick Douglass, the American runaway slave turned Abolitionist, spent some of his happiest days in Britain.
4 Douglass’s Debt
By Frederick Douglass
(1818-1895)
British statesmen were among those who inspired the career of one of America’s greatest men, Frederick Douglass.
5 How Britain Abolished Slavery
The Church’s campaigns against slavery were boosted by competition for labour after the Black Death.
6 The Obstinacy of Fowell Buxton
Fatherless teenage tearaway Fowell Buxton was not a promising boy, but the Gurney family changed all that.
page 2
7 How Liberating the Slaves also Clothed the Poor
Based on an article by Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)
The closure of slave plantations following the Abolition of Slavery Act in 1833 had a curious side-effect.
8 David Livingstone
The Scottish missionary and medic believed that slavery could better be eradicated by trade than by force.
9 The Bombardment of Algiers
For two centuries, human traffickers had stolen English men, women and children for the slave-markets of the Arab world.
10 The Case of Jonathan Strong
Granville Sharp and his surgeon brother William rescued a young African man from the streets of London.
11 The Anglo-Zanzibar War
It lasted barely forty minutes, but it brought slavery to an end in the little island territory.
12 Fashionable Freedom
By Thomas Clarkson
(1760-1846)
Josiah Wedgwood’s promotional gift made Abolitionism fashionable.
page 3
13 The Persistence of Thomas Clarkson
Today, the slave trade is a £150bn global business. Back in the late 18th century, it was making a lot of influential people very rich too, but some in England were determined to stop it.
14 In the Nick of Time
Thomas Lewis was rescued from slavery with only minutes to spare.
15 Somersett’s Case
James Somersett’s new Christian family used every available means to keep him from slavery.
which is ‘English Style’ ?

Word Play: Confusables

Compose your own sentences to show the difference between these words:

Who’s. Whose.

The unsung surveyor from Cheshire, who built railways and made friends across the world.
By William Ewart Gladstone
(1808-1898)
William Gladstone explains that a truly ‘exceptional nation’ respects the equality and rights of all nations.
By William Ewart Gladstone
(1808-1898)
William Gladstone warns voters not to leave foreign policy in the hands of interventionist politicians.
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
George Stephenson won the admiration of French navvies by showing them how a Geordie works a shovel.
Cut
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Polyword ‘Sett’
Make as many words as you can with the letters below. All your words must be at least four letters long, and must also include the highlighted letter. What’s the nine-letter word?

SEE how many words you can make using the letters below. All your words must be at least 4 letters long, and must include the letter (change).

We found commonly used words, plus one 9-letter word. Can you do better?

Use each letter only once. But if there are e.g. two As, you can used them both.

Don’t count proper nouns such as April, Zeus, or Newcastle (pretty much anything that has to be spelled with a capital letter at the start), or acronyms like HMRC.

Don’t just add -S for plurals or third person singular verbs, e.g. CAT → CATS or SPEAK → SPEAKS.

Note: You can find more Polywords and other games on our Nine Lives puzzle page, and most of our stories are accompanied by games with words, grammar and numbers.

More Puzzles
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with LONG and finish with JUMP.
Practise doing sums using multiples of 25, 50 and 75.
Do you know ‘meticulous’ (7 letters), and ‘father of Goneril, Regan and Cordelia’ (4 letters)?
Do you know ‘conclusive evidence’ (5 letters), and ‘perceptive realisation’ (6 letters)?
Change KEEP into MOAT, one letter at a time.
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
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History (375)
Fiction (80)

letters game

What is the longest word you can make using these letters?

Press enter or type a space to see feedback on your word.

More like this: ‘Countdown’ letters game Games with Words

numbers game

Make the total shown using two or more of the numbers underneath it. You can add, subtract, divide and multiply. Use any number once only.

More like this: Maths Gym Mental arithmetic